We celebrate the International Day of the white cane on 15th October. It all began in 1921, when James Bigs – a photographer from Bristol, UK, loses his sight after an accident. Since the traffic in his neighborhood was extremely heavy, he painted the cane he used as an assisting device white so that it became more visible for the others. In 1931 the mayor of Paris realized the idea to paint in white the canes blind people were using and the white color be used as a symbol of a visual disability and in the same year a national program for visually impaired people’s movement started in France. In 1943 in Pennsylvania doctor Richard Hoover, working in a military hospital invents the long white cane. This invention was provoked by the difficult situation that his blind patients were in. Due to bombing danger, the hospital was situated into the woods and in several distant buildings, which impeded the movement of the visually impaired.
In 1970 the president of the International blind federation declares 15th October as an international day of the white cane. 10 years later – in February 1980, the Presidium of the World Council of blind people’s wellbeing (the bigger and older world organization of the blind people) under the proposal of the chairman of the rehabilitation committee takes the decision to recommend to its members to celebrate 15th October as the International day of the white cane. Since then we have been celebrating 15th October as the safety day of people with severe visual disabilities.
the white cane has been recognized as a symbol of severe visual disability, as well as a symbol of the independence of blind people. It signals to the other people that its user is a blind person, but so far it is the most reliable aid for orientation and mobility of blind people in space. Using it and certain device, the visually impaired people get information in a motor-tactile way information about the environment, surrounding their routes and overcome one of the most severe aftermath of blindness – highly reduced ability for orientation and mobility in space.